NEBRASKA CITY – Like the severe thunderstorm that built over town Monday evening during Nebraska City’s first football practice, there seems to be a storm building for the Pioneers, especially along the offensive and defensive lines.
Nebraska City, which finished 0-9 last year in Class B, will boast an o-line and d-line with nine players at 200 pounds or more going into their first season in Class C1. Senior Jaydin Aldana (6’2″, 245) will lead the lines that include seniors Nick Zaroban (6’0″, 200) and Zach Benton (5’9″, 215), junior Alfredo Leos (5’7″, 265), and sophomore Wyatt Roberts (6’2″, 295).
Second-year Head Coach Dan Hempel says it helps to have size up-front, something the Pioneers haven’t had available in recent memory.
“It’s a matter of coaching them up and outworking our opposing teams that we are coming up against. That’s kind of going to be what we stress here in these first couple weeks of practice is making sure we are outworking our opponents. Getting these kids ready to roll. They have an opportunity to be dominate, but it’s going to take some hard work and some coaching up to get them polished.”
Junior Max Chaney (5’9″, 225) and senior Trenton Fahey (6’2″, 250) return after missing all of last season with injuries. Evan Wehling (5’8″, 215) is expected to play in the offensive line.
That o-line will be asked to protect returning all-district starting quarterback Bryce Levy. The 5’10”, 180-pound senior threw for 1,402 yards and seven touchdowns. He also rushed for 276 yards and a touchdown.
Levy’s top targets are expected to be seniors Tyler Levy and Skyler Self. Tyler Levy set the school record with 46 receptions last season.
According to Hempel, the team’s core values include commitment to the weight room, commitment to getting better, and playing and practicing with passion.
“A great improvement this offseason as far as their commitment level. And then passion – that’s when we’re out here on the field, playing for each other, and just being excited about being successful on Friday nights. If we bring that passion everyday then we’ll see a great leap in our team.”
Nebraska City kicks off the season on Aug. 24 at Schuyler, which snapped a 45-game losing streak last year.
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